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Leaders Care – Important Leadership Story about Leading with Care

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Leading With Care – Sugar Beet Leadership Story

Are you Leading with Care? Great Leaders Care!

I believe most would agree that there are big differences between managers and leaders. Leaders can’t be effective without leading with care and helping those they lead feel valued.

I recall a story I had heard several years ago. A farmer and his workers had just finished harvesting a truck load of sugar beets. They were on their way to the sugar refinery with a full load.

The route to the refinery was a bumpy dirt road. While making the journey several of the beets fell off the truck. Most farmers would have continued the journey and not thought much about the few that had fallen. However, this farmer was different.

He pulled over to the side of the road and instructed his workers to
retrieve the fallen beets. They looked at him confused; so much work for so few beets. But this farmer explained to them that there was just as much sugar in those few that had slipped as those that had remained.

I am fond of saying that leaders care. And if a leader doesn’t care, they ought not be a leader. I realize that this opinion may not resonate with some, but I see leadership as a calling with great responsibility to those who are led.

The difference between managers and leaders is that managers improve productivity – leaders improve lives. Managers change numbers and processes – leaders change lives.

Each beet on the truck has value. Each person in an organization or on a team has value as well. While all may not have the same gifts and talents, they all have value and leaders have a responsibility to find it and help nurture it.

If we compare the beets in this story to people, it isn’t difficult to imagine how important those beets that fell off the truck must have felt. At first they may have felt hurt, lonely and uncertain. But as the farmer came back they must have felt inspired, felt a greater sense of loyalty and felt more valued.

When leaders care, those they lead get it; they feel it and know it. The result is huge. People feel more valued and are more loyal resulting in higher retention and better production.

What can leaders do to help those they lead feel cared about? It’s pretty simple.

1. Show an Interest. Leaders that care take an interest in the families, hobbies and feelings of those they lead. They are also great listeners. I have always appreciated a boss who knew when it was my birthday, asked how my kids were doing and even knew their names or took an interest in a hobby I had.

2. Communicate. Communication includes helping those you lead understand your goals and expectations as well as the organizations. It also includes cascading important information so those you lead aren’t left to fill in the gaps. And being as open and transparent as possible is also important.

3. Appreciate, Reward and Recognize. I kid you not, I once had a boss send me a Foosball table. He knew I enjoyed playing Foosball and this was a token of his appreciation for me. Do you think I doubted in any way that he cared about me? Appreciation, rewards and recognition don’t have to be as big as a Foosball table, but you get the point. Leaders who care take the time to do something special for those they lead.

Question: What ways have you or someone you have been led by made you feel valued and showed that they cared? How important is it to you that leaders care?

For more great leadership stories click here.

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Leaders care when they show an interest, communicate and appreciate, reward and recognize.

Leave a Comment

  • Kyle Willkom March 27, 2013, 7:15 pm

    “I see leadership as a calling with great responsibility…”

    Enjoyed your post. The story of the farmer reminded me of the story of the boy throwing the starfish back into the ocean (if you have no idea what I’m talking about, it’s an easy Google).

    I’ve definitely experienced leaders that say they care quite a bit, but don’t do any of the three things you’ve outlined in this post. I think you’re spot on. Kudos!

    • Michael Rogers March 27, 2013, 7:18 pm

      Thanks for taking the time to comment Kyle. I do know that story, and yes, very similar.

      I have also had several leaders like that myself. It is frustrating too from a follower perspective. That is what inspired the posting : )


  • Sanjay Rakecha March 27, 2013, 11:50 pm

    Enjoyed your post. If you care people, they will care your goals.

    • Michael Rogers March 28, 2013, 7:05 am

      Very true. Thanks for your comments Sanjay.


  • Sanjay Rakecha March 27, 2013, 11:52 pm

    Enjoyed your valuable post.

  • Sanjay Rakecha March 27, 2013, 11:52 pm

    Nice & valuable post.

  • Debbie Nicol March 28, 2013, 8:16 am

    Thanks Michael – great story in the context of the beets….every beet is important….! If I had a ‘creative chance’ to change the story in any slight way, I’d have the farmer stop and grab the dropped beets himself, rather than instructing others to do so. I’ve seen that happen before and its amazing the response it gets from those around. However, the lesson the story gives is certainly nice in its intended form….many thanks for sharing!

    • Michael Rogers March 29, 2013, 10:00 am

      Thanks Debbie. I like your twist on the story. It is meaningful when a leader takes the time to do so : )


  • RAZUAN ABD MAJID March 28, 2013, 8:51 pm

    It is not because of ‘every beet is importance’ but ‘every beet gives us values/sugar/food that we need. The farmer had injected values to the workers not benefit of money.

    • Michael Rogers March 29, 2013, 9:57 am

      Thanks for commenting Razuan. But isn’t it true that because of what the beet gives us in terms of value, it is important?


  • Bhaskar March 30, 2013, 4:32 pm

    Excellent post and quite relevant in the current era where we see more and more people are becoming materialistic. I see leaders from successful organizations have the above traits.

    • Michael Rogers April 1, 2013, 1:41 pm

      Thanks Bhaskar. I agree. Great leaders all have these characteristics : )


  • tigist April 8, 2013, 2:00 am

    Thank you for your story

  • Peter August 2, 2013, 5:53 pm Reply

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